How to Join the Circular Economy This Christmas

The Environment

The circular economy is all about taking something that already exists and breathing new life into it so its life is extended and landfill is avoided. Christmastime is full of joy but the waste that happens this time of year has slivers of guilt entering lots of our minds once all those gifts are unwrapped and the living room is in total mayhem. 

Here are some ways to reduce your waste and the impact that gifting has on the planet this year.

Alternative ways to wrap gifts

Whilst wrapping paper has the bottom of your tree looking great this month, it’s waste at its worst: paper used once, admired briefly, ripped quickly and then thrown out. Have a think on some other ways to wrap your gifts this year. You know those canvas totes and shopping bags that have piled up and up and up on the top of your fridge? Put them to good use and wrap presents in these instead. You can go one up and purchase tote bags that you know the receiver will love so it gets continual use and is an additional present. There are lots of not for profit organisations who sell these in the lead up to Christmas so your purchase doubles as a donation. Check out Homie, Clothing The Gap and Buy From The Bush.

Scrap the plastic 

We love a good Christmas tree as much as the next person, but the cheap plastic decorations that often sit on them? Not so much. Avoid easily breakable glass, plastic and polystyrene; they don’t tend to last and their production is terrible for the planet. Invest in pieces that will last with ceramic or more durable glass options. You can DIY fruit garlands (good activity with the kids) or upcycle old decorations that you don’t love so much anymore. Trading the cheap lights for LED is also a more conscious choice. 

Another common move is to use disposable plastic cutlery, plates and cups. We get it – it’s cheap and handy because clean up is quick. Some alternatives would be to buy bamboo plates instead, or to ask everyone to bring their own glasses, plates and cutlery if you’re hosting a big event. The washing up takes longer, but that’s what dishwashers are for and it’ll mean zero waste from your lunch. 

Christmas crackers might be the biggest waste of all – fun while they last but the tiny plastic figurines and party hats are around for all of an hour. We aren’t here to ruin your fun though, you can buy eco friendly alternatives, or even better, make your own! Have a google, there are heaps of tutorials.

Buy gifts that last 

In 2018 an estimated $400 million worth of unwanted gifts went straight to landfill after Christmas – we can only imagine what that figure is now. Pure insanity! Ask people what they actually want, shorten the list and buy quality presents that will last more than this Summer and put thought into where you get them from. Tell your parents to stop buying the kids stocking fillers and replace them with sustainable alternatives. Think outside the box and purchase an experience rather than something physical which has a significantly lesser impact on the planet. 

Got a green thumb (or an aspiring one) in the family? Gifting plants is not only on trend and thoughtful, but great for the air we breathe. We love Veg Pods for people with a small space or those who are renting and Mr Kitly pots – they’re self watering and made from recycled plastic. What about a hydrangea for your parents that can sit outside the front door?

Shop small and locally

This advice isn’t groundbreaking – it’s in any sustainable gifting blog you read. But it’s repetitive for a reason: shopping from a small local business (especially if they make their products in house and source from sustainable suppliers) is one of the best choices you can make this Christmas. It’ll usually compliment the above point too, shopping small will often mean more care is taken in production and every purchase will be met with a happy dance from the creator. 

The sales from big brands at this time of year are hard to avoid, but only make a purchase if it’s something that’s been on the wish list for a long time. Often, small businesses won’t do sales and this gets a tick from us; it means they’re not contributing to fast fashion and they’re slowing down the cycle.

Get a real Christmas tree!

Here’s a great article that explains the life cycle of a plastic tree versus a real one. The bottom line is this: plastic Christmas trees use… plastic. Real trees are compostable and biodegradable and require nothing man-made to produce. The best part is they look (and smell) better too. 

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